The folding table couldn’t hold the paint stains, but the mess was worth cleaning up.
Cody Bauer, a fire protection engineering specialist at OSU, had it shortly after seeing the social media post. The Cowboys basketball team was having a shoe contest at their next game. Coach Mike Boynton’s instructions in the video were clear.
“Make sure the drip is good,” Boynton said.
Bauer saw the video the day before the game. He contacted his sister, Makenna, and they set up a folding table in Bauer’s living room and grabbed a pair of white Nike Air Force 1s.
“I’ve had these Forces before,” Bauer said. “I try to keep all my shoes relatively clean. I saw the post about what they are doing for the challenge or whatever. And so my sister and I kind of got to thinking, ‘Well, we’ve always wanted to do this, so why not now?’
Bauer is into the custom shoe game and even bought a pair of off-brand leather shoes over Christmas to try out. He knew he had to use his Air Force 1s, the real deal, for the game, so the pressure was on.
“I’m not really an artist,” Bauer said. “That’s why I kind of had my sister around. She is definitely the entertainer of the family. So very creative. Very, very good at painting.
They worked on the shoes for about four hours. Makenna also brought a pair to customize. Some details were planned. Others, like the emblem painted on the back of Bauer’s shoes, were spontaneous.
Speckling shoes in paint was tedious. They loaded a brush with paint and threw it at the shoe. Speckles covered the shoes. And the table. And the surrounding cabinets.
“We have paint absolutely all over the house,” Bauer said. “It took a long time to clean that up.”
At the match, Bauer was chosen from the crowd as one of the top contenders. The crowd cheered him the loudest and he was crowned the winner.
Bauer won a pair of Boynton shoes, which he will display.
“I would probably never wear them,” Bauer said. “One, they’re a little too big for me and two, I don’t know if I want to wear a designer shoe. I mean, it’s the Air Max 1 I believe, so it’s a really nice shoe.
To respond to needs
Tracey Walker identified the need for a quick glance and came up with a solution.
The solution was not difficult to find. He wore it.
Walker almost never misses an OSU Gallagher-Iba Arena game. He enjoys watching his son, Rondel, play. With the added incentive of the January 26 game, a shoe contest, he settled into his usual spot at the front of the student section above the Cowboy group well before the tip.
Walker opted to wear his Nike Flights, black, purple and orange galaxy-themed shoes. They reminded him of the movie Space Jam, which helped in the difficult selection process.
Walker estimates he has a few hundred pairs. It’s a welcome infestation, but some rooms in his house are full of Nike, Adidas and Reebok shoes.
“Packaged from top to bottom…back of doors, above closet, under beds, I have shelves in the closet, above the closet, in my bedroom, under the bed in the guest room,” Walker said. “They’re everywhere.”
Walker’s collection can be overwhelming.
“You can actually (lose track of what you have) and turn around and buy the same pair, or have something very, very similar,” Walker said.
But on game night, Walker wasn’t focused on his shoes. Walker started another collection. A collection of one. And that, too, was overwhelming.
Walker noticed a band member from OSU staring at his shoes. Walker looked at the boy’s shoes and had a quick thought.
“Damn, homie needs it,” Walker said.
After the match, Walker offered the band member his shoes.
“He was like, ‘I can’t take them, I can’t take them, oh my God,'” Walker said.
Walker, who values mentorship and service, insisted. Walker donates almost as many shoes as he buys and he wanted to bless the boy. When he found out the boy was a huge Cowboys fan, Walker called Rondel and set up a meeting on the field.
“(He was) surprised, intrigued, happy, excited,” Walker said. “I couldn’t believe he had a conversation with Rondel. Shoot, upset because I think he cried too.
Rondel autographed the shoes. Walker, who occasionally loads shoes from his collection into 50-gallon trash bags to donate to homeless people in OKC, did not share the meeting on social media.
“I’m not saying (posting on social media) is a bad thing, but I just know that (it feels good) when you do well because you want to do it,” Walker said. “I don’t think the world needs to know.”
A look at Mike Boynton’s boots reveals the intensity of a game.
Support in style
Kiara Wood had two choices.
Scrolling through Instagram, Wood, a marketer at OSU, saw the video announcement Boynton made in his office.
Wear your best shoes.
“I only have two really nice ones,” Wood said. “My Syracuse high end dunks and my OG low pulse purple dunks.
Wood went to the game wearing the orange dunks. She went with her boyfriend, who doubled as a competition. He wore gold-tipped Jordan 1s.
Wood went to every home game and said the mood was good. People in the crowd particularly spoke out when they were asked to cheer on the shoes they liked best. Wood was a fan of the night.
“(Boynton) does an amazing job,” Wood said. “I also know that he tries to go to every sport in OSU, which I think is great.”
Dayna Brown likes her shoes to be unique.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a shoe collector, but I have shoes that are pretty,” Brown said. “I tend to choose shoes that I don’t see so often.
Brown decided to wear his blue Nikes with a basketball on the back of the game. She had no trouble choosing because for her, the outfit always comes first. She went with friends, and they all brought their best shoes. She said her group was in good spirits.
“You could feel everyone was feeding off of each other’s energy, which made it a pretty amazing place,” Brown said.
Brown went to almost every game and was sure to make time to attend. She said the excitement that night ranked near the peak of the season.
“The energy was unfathomable,” Brown said. “It was one of those nights where you just had to be there.”
NYC to Stilly
Avamarie Blackmon was on a special trip when she received her shoes.
For her 21st birthday, Blackmon, a junior health education and promotion student, traveled to New York with her father. She went to the Nike Store and a pair of AF1 Shadows caught her eye.
The Artic Punch/Barely Volt/Volt Discreet colorway appears. It’s the same reason she wore them to the game, but the contest was just a plus. She would have been at Gallagher-Iba Arena anyway.
Blackmon hasn’t missed a home football or basketball game this season. Her older brother, Justin, played football for the Cowboys and said she was a huge OSU fan.
Despite her fierce loyalty, Blackmon had to be careful when cheering on the student section. The proximity and the jumps suddenly became dangers for his shoes.
“I was terrified of scuffing my shoes,” Blackmon said. “I was very careful cheering on this game.”
Blackmon said she liked what Boynton was doing to engage students and increase fan support.
“I love what Coach Mike does and I love how he cares about the fans,” Blackmon said. “You can tell he really cares about us and knows we can help energize the team in crucial situations.”